The Supreme Court this week, in an unsigned opinion, reversed relief granted by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to a death row inmate because of his lawyer’s ineffective assistance. But Justice Samuel Alito wrote separately — and curiously — to emphasize his view that no “special relevance” should be given to the American Bar Association‘s guidelines on the appointment and performance of defense counsel in death penalty cases.

In Bobby v. Van Hook, the justices found that, among the 6th Circuit panel’s errors, was its reliance on ABA guidelines announced 18 years after Robert Van Hook went to trial.